Pupil Liam McIntosh from The Gordon Schools Huntly with Phil Gaiter, rector of The Gordon Schools Huntly, Chris Dunridge, head of HR and development at Donald Russell and Alistair Dixon, depute rector at The Gordon Schools Huntly.

This week saw industry and education providers from across the North-east come together to highlight the vast array of opportunities available to young people wishing to embark on a career in the food, drink and agriculture sector.

Developing the Young Workforce North East (DYW NE), Opportunity North East (ONE) and Skills Development Scotland teamed up to deliver the Tasty Careers event which gave pupils, teachers, parents and guardians the chance to hear directly from professionals and young people already working in the sector across a wide range of roles and a chance to learn about the career pathways from local employers and education providers.

The event focused on dispelling the misconceptions of career opportunities in one of the North-east’s key growth sectors. The latest figures from the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership shows the food and drink sector needs 41,900 new recruits by 2029 to meet the skills need of the sector. Many of these jobs are in STEM related areas such as food science, food technology and engineering.

Commenting on why DYW is involved Mary Holland director of DYW North East, said “Our role is to be the vital link between employers and education.

“Events like these help us to highlight the skills and opportunities available in this key growth sector for the North-east and dispel any misconceptions of the industry, showcasing the vast array of pathways open to young people.”

Peter Cook, director of food drink and agriculture at Opportunity North East, said “This is one of the most diverse and exciting industries for young people – you could be calving cows in the shadow of Bennachie, operating a robot in a shortbread production line, selling the story of premium Aberdeenshire gin in Hong Kong, designing biodegradable packaging or developing the next trend setting product for the millennial generation.

“This very successful event was a great start in creating connections between businesses and pupils, their parents and teachers to make everyone aware of the possibilities. We hope to bring more food and drink businesses to this type of event in future.”

Gerry McBride, food and drink strategic relations manager at Skills Development Scotland said: “SDS was delighted to support and participate in the Tasty Careers event to emphasise the diverse job opportunities and the different pathways into the sector.

“It was terrific to see such a great turnout from those eager to learn more.”

DYW NE bridges the gap between education and employers to help all young people find fulfilling careers. The organisation has helped hundreds of organisations connect with schools, from one-off awareness raising career events through to establishing long term partnerships.

The latest collaborative partnership facilitated by DYW NE was awarded on the night (Tuesday, October 29) to Donald Russell and The Gordon Schools Huntly for their efforts in bringing the world of work into the classroom which has included a skills carousel delivered to S2 pupils to widen their industry knowledge and raise awareness of key employability skills.

Designed to raise awareness of the careers and skills required to work in different business sectors, they provide schools with a committed business partner to support the activity designed to prepare young people for the world of work.

Mary Holland said: “Meaningful partnerships between businesses and schools create a number of mutually beneficial advantages, which is why we are pleased to celebrate this newest collaboration. It is never too early to inspire the next generation of business leaders and expand young people’s horizons when it comes to the variety of career paths open to them, helping employers to build a pipeline of talent for the future.”